Motoring: Honda Civic Tourer wins our full trust
There is everything to like about the Honda Civic Tourer without it being overly showy.
BEING a believer in the cock-up rather than the conspiracy theory of human activity, I reckon it was pure coincidence that at the exact times when I have been driving Honda cars this year, press releases were issued announcing the company had won awards, prizes or something equally laudatory.
The day of picking up the Honda CR-V with the new 1.6 diesel engine on board, I heard that the car had been chosen by What Car? as the most fuel-efficient SUV it has – returning 5.0l/100km (56.5mpg).
Last week, after returning the Honda Civic Tourer with the same engine on board, I received a release that for the third year running, Honda has been voted the 'Most Trusted' car manufacturer by new car buyers in a survey by influential motoring publication Kelley Blue Book for its 2014 Brand Image Award study.
It does not really surprise me as colleagues, family and friends will always regale me with tales of how they loved owning Hondas and never had one bit of trouble with them. That many of them moved from the brand had a lot to do with the perceived over-blingness of the new Civic, a move upmarket in the firm's overall pricing which particularly affected the Accord and the massive inroads manufacturers like Hyundai and Volkswagen made into its customer base.
My attitude to the marque probably changed at the same time but very keen pricing, excellent specs and some really economical engines like the 1.6 diesel are making an impression now. Regular readers will know that this column is a great fan of estate cars – probably because of some old deeply buried pretension, I know – even if they are never called such these day, rather being labelled Tourer, Sportback and the like.
And like the Civic Tourer very much I did, not least because the back seats folded absolutely flat in a second and my bike was swallowed in jig time. In fact, the car has the largest seats-down volume in the segment There is also an absolutely cavernous under-floor space – where the spare tyre would have been and other massive storage options including one at the rear which would nicely take a shotgun – aagh, those pretensions again.
The Civic Tourer was coming down with safety features courtesy of an additional pack for €1,250 which included city-brake active system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot information and cross traffic monitor as well as traffic sign recognition. Even this pack of extras didn't push the Civic Tourer Sport model with 1.6i-DTEC engine above €28,645. The range starts at €26k and with this engine on board, qualifies for €180 road tax.
The Tourer had everything I liked without being overly showy. It was excellent to drive although you need to be using the slick gearstick a lot to get the best of the 1.6 diesel. Yet it wasn't perfect; the dash was very fiddly and at times it was difficult to read some of the instrument displays.
I also felt quite crowded in the driving position, so much so that I had to get out to eat a sandwich, much to the disdain of my passenger and the dog. The car could have been smoother over bumps and the engine was quite noisy. Yet around town, the car was a delight to use, with light steering. However, at speed it isn't quite as precise but still has excellent grip and with all the safety equipment on board, you are well cosseted.
But all these factors pale when you think of the overall package and the Honda reputation for quality. It is a class car and lives up to its Most Trusted award.